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Meritorious artisan Tran Van Ba passes down soong co songs

(BGO) – Despite being over 70 years old, meritorious artisan Tran Van Ba, a San Diu ethnic in Chao Cu village, Giap Son commune (Luc Ngan district, Bac Giang province) has always infatuated with soong co songs.

Giap Son, a mountainous commune of Luc Ngan district, still preserves many good cultural values, including folk songs of San Diu ethnic minority (also known as soong co). When asked about the San Diu ethnic folk songs, Ba said as a child, he heard his parents sing the folk songs of his group and has loved them since then.

Meritorious artisan, Tran Van Ba, soong co songs, Bac Giang province, 70 years old, San Diu ethnic,  folk songs

Meritorious artisan Tran Van Ba (5th from right) and members of the club sing soong co songs in an exchange programme.

"When I was 17 years old, I memorized many folk songs and often followed the elderly artisans in the village and the commune to learn to sing the songs. I could sing many genres such as: love-exchange songs (co chay), wedding songs (senh ca chiu co), birthday songs (shang chiu co), songs to congratulate the new house (song shiu oc co), and songs to celebrate the new year (shin nen co)"...

Not only singing together with people in the commune, Ba has also sung in exchange programmes in many other localities in the district, the province and other provinces where San Diu people live such as Lang Son, Quang Ninh, Vinh Phuc and Thai Nguyen to exchange, study and connect the cultural identity of the group.

Ba shared that, in the 1980s backwards, people from Tay, Nung, San Chi and San Diu ethnic groups together went to the market to sing together in crowded market fairs.

Singing soong co is a form of folk performance that originates from the daily working life of the San Diu ethnic group with many genres such as lullaby, children’s songs, love exchange songs, wedding songs and songs to wish longevity... The soong co lyrics and melodies bear feelings and praise the homeland's beauty and wish for a full and happy life.

No one remembers when the folk songs originated from. People only know for many generations, San Diu people still tell the legend that in the past, there was a girl named Ly Tam Moi who was intelligent, beautiful and very good at ask-and-answer singing. No one in the area could respond to her. One day, while she was taking water from the river, suddenly she met three boys riding on three boats carrying a lot of books towards her. The girl asked where the boys were going to, and they replied that they were going to sing. She immediately offered a sentence for them to respond.

The three boys read all the books aboard but could not respond to the girl so they threw all the books away. Since then, the girl suddenly became sad. She sang until her old age without getting married. When she died, she turned into a fairy and flew into the sky. The following generations then found three books recording the songs sung by the three boys which were passed down to today’s generations.

In 2012, Giap Son commune established the San Diu folk singing club, and Ba was elected as chairman of the club. In the initial time, the club still faced many difficulties, Ba and the club’s management board had to collect ancient songs and compose new lyrics for them based on folk tunes, praising the homeland, the country and the people, and even ask-and-answer and love-exchange songs to teach members of the club.

Every year, the club organizes folk singing exchanges in the early spring days in the commune, the district and many localities in other provinces housing San Diu ethnic minorities.

In his daily life, Ba is always active in preserving San Diu cultural heritage. Over the years, he has participated in folk singing competitions at the Luc Ngan Ethnic Groups Culture and Sports Festival, gaining high achievements. With his contributions, in 2014, Tran Van Ba was awarded the Certificate of Merit by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. In 2019, he was awarded the title of Meritorious Artisan by the State President.

Dong Ngoc Duong

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Meritorious artisan, Tran Van Ba, soong co songs, Bac Giang province, 70 years old, San Diu ethnic, folk songs
 
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